What Should I Read First By Stephen King?

If you’re a fan of horror fiction, then chances are you’ve heard of Stephen King. With his captivating storytelling and knack for creating spine-chilling narratives, King has become one of the most renowned authors in the genre. But with such an extensive bibliography, it can be overwhelming to decide where to start. That’s why in this article, we’ll explore the question that haunts every Stephen King enthusiast: “What should I read first by Stephen King?” So, buckle up and get ready for a journey into the world of terror and suspense!

When it comes to Stephen King, there’s no shortage of options. From classics like “Carrie” and “The Shining” to newer releases like “The Outsider,” King has a book for every taste. But fear not, dear reader, for I am here to guide you through the labyrinth of King’s works and help you find the perfect starting point. Whether you’re a seasoned horror aficionado or a newbie to the genre, there’s a Stephen King novel that will captivate and terrify you in equal measure. So, grab your favorite reading spot, dim the lights, and let’s dive into the twisted mind of one of the greatest storytellers of our time.

What should I read first by Stephen King?

What Should I Read First by Stephen King?

Stephen King is a prolific author known for his gripping and chilling stories. With a vast library of novels and short stories, it can be overwhelming to decide where to start reading his works. Whether you’re a long-time fan or new to King’s writing, this article will guide you through some of his best works and help you choose what to read first.

The Shining

The Shining is a classic horror novel that has captivated readers for decades. Set in the eerie Overlook Hotel, the story follows Jack Torrance, a struggling writer who takes a job as the hotel’s caretaker during the winter season. As the isolation takes its toll on Jack, his young son Danny begins to experience terrifying visions. The Shining is a masterclass in atmospheric horror, with King’s descriptive prose bringing the hotel and its dark secrets to life.

One of the reasons The Shining is a great starting point for new readers is its iconic status in popular culture. The novel has been adapted into a highly acclaimed film directed by Stanley Kubrick, making it a familiar story even for those who haven’t read the book. Additionally, The Shining showcases King’s ability to create memorable characters and build tension, making it a perfect introduction to his writing style.

In this chilling tale, King explores themes of isolation, addiction, and the darkness that resides within the human psyche. It’s a haunting read that will keep you on the edge of your seat and leave you pondering its deeper meanings long after you’ve finished the last page.


Carrie is Stephen King’s debut novel and remains one of his most iconic works. The story revolves around Carrie White, a high school outcast with telekinetic powers who seeks revenge on her tormentors after a humiliating prom night incident. Carrie is a compelling exploration of adolescence, bullying, and the consequences of unchecked power.

The novel is structured as a mix of traditional narrative, newspaper articles, and excerpts from books, creating a unique and immersive reading experience. King’s portrayal of Carrie as a sympathetic character despite her violent actions showcases his ability to delve into the complexities of human emotions and motivations.

Carrie is an excellent starting point for readers interested in King’s exploration of supernatural abilities and the impact they can have on individuals and society. It’s a thought-provoking novel that will leave you questioning the boundaries of power and the consequences of unchecked cruelty.


It is a sprawling epic that combines horror, coming-of-age themes, and a deep exploration of friendship. Set in the fictional town of Derry, Maine, the story follows a group of friends known as the Losers’ Club who confront a malevolent entity that takes the form of their worst fears, most notably Pennywise the Dancing Clown.

One of the standout elements of It is King’s ability to capture the essence of childhood and the bonds formed during that time. The Losers’ Club feels like a real group of friends, and their camaraderie adds depth to the story. The novel also delves into the characters’ adult lives as they are forced to confront their past traumas.

It is a lengthy novel, but it is worth the investment of time. King’s vivid descriptions and character development make the story come alive, and the constant shifts between the past and present keep the reader engaged. It is a quintessential Stephen King novel that showcases his ability to blend horror with heartfelt storytelling.

The Stand

The Stand is an epic post-apocalyptic novel that explores themes of good versus evil. After a deadly flu pandemic wipes out most of the world’s population, the survivors find themselves drawn to two opposing forces, one led by the benevolent Mother Abagail and the other by the malevolent Randall Flagg.

What sets The Stand apart is its sprawling cast of characters and intricate storytelling. King weaves together multiple storylines, each with its own unique set of characters and challenges. The novel is a testament to King’s storytelling prowess, as he effortlessly juggles multiple narratives while maintaining a sense of urgency and suspense.

The Stand is a must-read for fans of epic tales and intricate world-building. It explores themes of morality, faith, and the battle between light and darkness. King’s vivid descriptions and well-developed characters make the journey through this post-apocalyptic landscape unforgettable.

Other Stephen King Recommendations

In addition to the aforementioned novels, there are numerous other works by Stephen King that are worth exploring. Here are a few more recommendations:

The Green Mile

The Green Mile is a serialized novel set in a death row prison block in the 1930s. It follows the lives of the guards and inmates, particularly John Coffey, a prisoner with mysterious healing powers. The Green Mile combines elements of supernatural, drama, and social commentary, making it a captivating and emotionally impactful read.

Salem’s Lot

Salem’s Lot is a vampire novel that pays homage to traditional vampire mythology while adding King’s unique twist. The story takes place in the small town of Jerusalem’s Lot, where an ancient evil awakens and begins turning the townspeople into vampires. Salem’s Lot is a chilling and atmospheric tale that showcases King’s ability to create a sense of dread and suspense.


11/22/63 is a time-travel novel that follows Jake Epping, a high school teacher who discovers a portal that leads to the past. He embarks on a mission to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. This novel combines elements of historical fiction, thriller, and romance, resulting in a compelling and thought-provoking read.


In conclusion, Stephen King has a vast array of novels and stories that cater to various interests and genres. Whether you’re looking for horror, suspense, or even historical fiction with a supernatural twist, King has something for everyone. The Shining, Carrie, It, The Stand, The Green Mile, Salem’s Lot, and 11/22/63 are just a few recommendations to get you started on your Stephen King reading journey. So grab a book, dim the lights, and prepare to be captivated by the master of horror himself.

Key Takeaways: What should I read first by Stephen King?

  1. Start with “Carrie,” Stephen King’s debut novel that showcases his talent for horror and suspense.
  2. Explore “The Shining,” a classic psychological thriller set in a haunted hotel.
  3. Dive into “It,” a terrifying story about a shape-shifting monster that preys on children.
  4. Discover “Misery,” a gripping tale of a writer held captive by his biggest fan.
  5. Don’t miss “The Stand,” an epic post-apocalyptic novel that explores themes of good versus evil.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you a fan of Stephen King’s books and wondering where to start? Look no further! Here are some recommendations for the best Stephen King books to read first.

1. What is the best Stephen King book to start with?

If you’re new to Stephen King’s work, a great book to start with is “Carrie.” This novel, King’s first published work, tells the story of a high school girl with telekinetic powers. It’s a gripping tale of horror and suspense that showcases King’s talent for creating memorable characters and building tension. “Carrie” is a perfect introduction to King’s writing style and his ability to delve into the darker aspects of human nature.

Another excellent starting point is “The Shining.” This iconic novel follows the Torrance family as they face the terrifying supernatural forces within the Overlook Hotel. With its atmospheric setting and psychological depth, “The Shining” is a masterpiece of horror literature that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

2. Which Stephen King book is considered a classic?

“It” is widely regarded as one of Stephen King’s most iconic and influential novels. This epic tale of a group of friends who confront an ancient evil in their hometown has become a cultural phenomenon. With its blend of horror, coming-of-age themes, and rich character development, “It” is a must-read for any fan of Stephen King or the horror genre in general.

Another classic Stephen King book is “The Stand.” This sprawling post-apocalyptic novel explores themes of good versus evil and showcases King’s ability to create a vast and immersive world. “The Stand” is a monumental work that has captivated readers for decades.

3. What Stephen King book is a good choice for those who prefer psychological suspense?

If you enjoy psychological suspense, “Misery” is a fantastic choice. This gripping novel tells the story of a famous author held captive by his number one fan. With its intense cat-and-mouse game and exploration of obsession, “Misery” will keep you guessing until the very end.

Another psychological thriller by Stephen King is “Gerald’s Game.” This novel follows a woman who finds herself handcuffed to a bed after her husband’s sudden death. As she battles physical and psychological challenges, dark secrets from her past come to light. “Gerald’s Game” is a tense and thought-provoking read.

4. Which Stephen King book is a good choice for fans of supernatural horror?

If you’re a fan of supernatural horror, “Pet Sematary” is a must-read. This chilling novel explores the consequences of bringing the dead back to life and delves into themes of grief and loss. With its eerie atmosphere and haunting imagery, “Pet Sematary” will leave you with a sense of unease long after you finish reading.

Another great choice for fans of supernatural horror is “Salem’s Lot.” This vampire tale set in a small town is a modern classic that showcases King’s ability to create a sense of dread and build suspense. “Salem’s Lot” is a chilling and atmospheric read that will make you think twice about what lurks in the shadows.

5. Should I read Stephen King’s books in publication order?

While some readers prefer to read books in publication order to experience an author’s growth and evolution, it is not necessary to do so with Stephen King’s books. Each of his novels stands on its own and can be enjoyed independently. Feel free to start with any book that catches your interest, whether it’s a classic or a newer release.

That being said, if you’re looking for a chronological reading experience, starting with “Carrie” and then progressing through King’s works can provide a fascinating journey through his literary career.

The Ultimate Stephen King Starter Guide 🤡 How and Where to Start Reading SK!

Final Thoughts: Which Stephen King Book Should You Read First?

So, you’re ready to dive into the thrilling world of Stephen King, but you’re wondering where to start. With such an extensive library of works, it can be overwhelming to choose just one. But fear not! We’ve got you covered.

When it comes to selecting your first Stephen King book, “It” is a fantastic choice. This iconic novel showcases King’s ability to weave a complex and captivating narrative that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. With its blend of horror, suspense, and coming-of-age themes, “It” introduces you to the eerie town of Derry and its terrifying supernatural entity, Pennywise the Clown. As you follow the exploits of the Losers’ Club, you’ll be captivated by King’s masterful storytelling and his knack for creating memorable characters.

If you’re more inclined towards psychological horror, “The Shining” is an absolute must-read. This chilling tale of a family’s descent into madness at the isolated Overlook Hotel is a true masterpiece. With its atmospheric setting, intense psychological tension, and exploration of the dark depths of the human psyche, “The Shining” showcases why Stephen King is considered the master of horror. You’ll be engrossed in the terrifying events that unfold, keeping you glued to the pages until the very end.

In conclusion, whether you choose to start with the supernatural horrors of “It” or the psychological torment of “The Shining,” you can’t go wrong with Stephen King. His ability to craft captivating stories filled with memorable characters and spine-tingling suspense is unparalleled. So, grab a copy of one of these iconic novels and prepare to be immersed in the twisted and captivating world of Stephen King. Happy reading!

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